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Effective Family Support Communication Strategies. Candace Lindow-Davies Coordinator Minnesota Hands & Voices & Co-Author Karen Putz President Illinois Hands & Voices. Financial Disclosure Statement.

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Effective family support communication strategies

Effective Family Support Communication Strategies

Candace Lindow-Davies


Minnesota Hands & Voices



Karen Putz


Illinois Hands & Voices

Financial disclosure statement
Financial Disclosure Statement

  • A: I have no relevant financial relationship with the manufacturers of any commercial products and/or provider of commercial services discussed in this CME activity.

  • B: I do not intend to discuss an unapproved/investigative use of a commercial product/device in my presentation.


  • Minnesota Demographics

  • Background about MN Hands & Voices

  • Observations about Changing Needs of Parents

  • Communication Strategies

  • Application to Other States

  • Conclusion

Minnesota demographics
Minnesota Demographics

  • Approximately 70,000 births per year

  • 111 Birthing hospitals

  • Metro Area in Southeast of State

  • Vast rural communities

  • No UNHS mandate…yet

Background on minnesota hands voices
Background on Minnesota Hands & Voices

  • 30 years of family support specific to deaf/hard of hearing in Minnesota

  • Strong signing, cueing and oral community

  • Family Support Connection in existence for over 6 years (Now MN Hands & Voices)

  • Program supported primarily by Greater Twin Cities United Way

  • Staff consists of 9 paid Parent Guides = under 2 FTE’s

    • 3 Metro

    • 6 Greater MN (Guide By Your Side Program)

  • 492 Unduplicated Parents/Professionals Served in 2006

  • Over 700 on mailing list

Observations about changing needs of parents
Observations about Changing Needs of Parents

  • 10 years ago, families had to personally attend workshops to get information or to find support from other families

  • Today, families have access to information without leaving their home

  • Families are far more complicated and heavily scheduled

  • Our charge is to make sure that parents get accurate, comprehensive information/support for all choices in as many ways as possible

Communication types
Communication Types

Anonymous Interactions

Passive Communication

Group Interactions

One-on-one Communication

Communication strategies passive communication
Communication Strategies:Passive Communication

  • Newsletters**

  • Mass Email Alerts

  • Web Site**

  • Fact Sheets**

  • Parent Welcome Letters**

  • New Parent Packets

  • **These items are on our web site

Passive communication newsletters
Passive Communication:Newsletters

  • Mailed Version

  • Email Version

  • Web Site Posting

  • School Flyer

  • See our web site

Passive communication mass email alerts
Passive Communication:Mass Email Alerts

  • Custom Designed Database

  • Client and Professional Information

  • Email/Mass Email System

  • Database stores incoming emails under the individual’s profile so history is kept

  • Past common responses can be searched and used again

Example of mn database new client profile
Example of MN Database:New Client Profile

Passive communication fact sheets
Passive Communication: Fact Sheets

  • Variety of fact sheets developed based on common questions from parents

  • Topics include: Beginning sign language, cued speech, auditory training, communication options, resources in the Spanish-speaking community, unilateral hearing loss and so on

  • See our web site

Passive communication parent welcome letters
Passive Communication: Parent Welcome Letters

  • Tool used to encourage parents to reach out for support

  • Opens with explaining the family’s diagnosis story

  • Discuss one challenge or success

  • End with words of encouragement

  • Three letters in Spanish, Hmong and Somali languages

  • See our web site

Communication strategies anonymous interactions
Communication Strategies:Anonymous Interactions

  • Chat Rooms/Bulletin Boards

  • Email

Anonymous interactions hands voices bulletin board
Anonymous Interactions: Hands & Voices Bulletin Board

  • Parents can post questions about different topics

  • Moderated

  • Can pose questions specifically to a state chapter

Hands voices bulletin board http www handsandvoices org hv phpbb2
Hands & Voices Bulletin Board:http://www.handsandvoices.org/hv/phpBB2/

Communication strategies one on one personal communication
Communication Strategies:One-on-one personal communication

  • Phone communication between Parent Guides and parent

  • Email communication between Parent Guides and parent

  • Facilitated phone/email contact between parents

  • In person meetings between Parent Guides and parents

  • Facilitated in person meetings between parents

Communication strategies small group interaction
Communication Strategies:Small Group Interaction

  • Small group interaction at a setting familiar to the parent

    • Parent group at a school, church or cultural center

  • Small group interaction at a setting unfamiliar to the parent

    • Host organization’s site

    • Public Place

Communication strategies large group involvement
Communication Strategies:Large Group Involvement

  • Social Events

  • Educational Workshops

  • Retreats

  • Regional Family Activities/Socialization Days

Application to other states or what i ve learned the hard way
Application to Other States(Or What I’ve Learned the Hard Way)

  • Events require months of advanced notice

  • Advertisements in more than one way/time

  • Marketing needs to “speak” to parents

  • Timing must be convenient

  • Barriers to participation need to be removed

    • Communication

    • Financial

    • Child Care

    • Parking

    • Site Location

Other take home points
Other Take Home Points

  • Make events annual for the best attendance

  • Vary your events so they are accessible

  • Strive to appeal to appeal to different ages

  • Offer events in a variety of locations in your state

  • Get buy-in/support/recruitment from all groups

  • Check for Balance/Fairness

  • Experiment with interesting topics

  • Mix fun/social events with education


Parent education is an opportunity to bring necessary information to families at pivotal decision-making moments in their lives.

Many different communication strategies must be engaged in order to reach families at different levels.

A family armed with support, information and tools to advocate for their child…priceless!

Contact information
Contact Information

Candace Lindow-Davies

Family Support Coordinator

MN Hands & Voices

Family Support Connection

Lifetrack Resources

709 University Avenue West

St. Paul, MN 55104-4804




Contact information1
Contact Information

Karen Putz


Illinois Hands and Voices